Month: September 2021


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CCRW Supports Local Sustainable Businesses

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Protecting quality of water and quality of life in Coastal North Carolina

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Supports Local Sustainable Businesses

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) understands the value and importance of shopping local. It is the preface for creating the local Eco Gift Guide in 2020. While CCRW prepares to launch the Eco Gift Guide for the second year, staff reflect on why they feel so strongly about buying locally.

“Shopping local, sustainable businesses is not only good for the environment, it makes our communities more resilient.”
-Lisa Rider, CCRW Executive Director
Buying locally is as trendy as boots in the fall, pumpkin everything, whimsical charcuterie boards, and vintage thrifting. It’s the reason why community and farmers markets are all the rage. It’s the reason why all the cool-kids on Instagram promote all their fav local artists, musicians, creators and makers. Shoppers love the idea of knowing where their products are coming from and supporting their neighbors.
So, how does supporting local businesses help the environment?

Supports Local Workforce

By shopping locally, we are doing our part to support the local workforce. If you buy gifts locally, you’re helping to keep your neighbors in their jobs. Without the support from you and the local consumer demand, these local businesses may not exist. Many of the employees would have to seek work elsewhere, and likely outside of the community. This would add to roadway congestion and increase the overall carbon footprint. In Coastal Carolina, we rely on locals to support businesses in the off-season. Tourists head back to school and work at the end of the summer, when the gift-giving season begins. By shopping at local sustainable businesses, including restaurants, bars, local artists, and experiences (Charters and Tours), during the off-season, we help sustain that business throughout the year.

Reduces Our Footprint

One of the most important ways buying locally helps the environment is by reducing your carbon footprint (the miles products spend in the shipping process, etc.). By shopping locally, you are purchasing goods produced, made, and grown in your local community by your friends and neighbors. Did you know that when you shop at the grocery or retail chain store, much of what you buy travels over 1500 miles before you start to drive it home.

More Accessible and Transparent

Local sustainable (eco-friendly) businesses are able to operate in the heart of their local communities. Local markets, for example, are smaller than traditional grocery stores and therefore they are able to set up their shop right in the heart of the community, making them more accessible.

At our local community and farmers markets (like Island Produce, an Eco-Gift Guide member since 2020) consumers are able to easily access lots of local homegrown produce without leaving their own community. Customers can also learn about where their products are made or grown here in North Carolina. Island Produce owner, Jen, takes the time to visit each of the farms in NC to touch and feel where the products are grown and learn from the farmers.

“I just love our local candle-maker, Alexia at Sea Oats Candle Company (Eco-Gift Guide business since 2020), and her magical way of making my home, office, and car smell amazingly nostalgic each season” – Eco-Gift Guide User

Fresher and Saltier

By buying and eating local, consumers are able to enjoy produce that is super fresh. For our local fish markets, we’re talking super #FreshAndSalty! Many local producers pride themselves on keeping their product organic, hormone free and pesticide free, which is also great for the environment. Our Executive Director, Lisa Rider, loves shopping at our local markets, because the products are fresh and brought directly from farm/ocean to table, which creates less waste. “Most of our markets prefer you BYOBag or they provide paper bags, which is ocean-friendly.” We live in the best place imaginable for fresh and local seafood. Eco-gift guide alumni, Oysters Carolina, owned and operated by Coastal Carolina Riverwatch board member, Ryan Bethea, gives farm-to-table a whole new meaning. He harvests his Harkers Island oysters the same day that they are delivered to your doorstep.

Protects Local Land & Wildlife

Did you know that buying-local also helps to protect local lands and wildlife? Because your local sustainable farm is owned and operated by local (and in most cases generational) farmers and producers, they aren’t being sold to local developers, which reduces important habitat for wildlife. When small sustainable farms are bought out by big business producers, those big business (and in many cases foreign owned) industrial and factory farms incorporate inhumane and non-eco-friendly farming practices.

Accessing the Eco-Gift Guide

Our 2021 Eco-Gift Guide includes some of our favorite local businesses committed to protecting clean water in coastal North Carolina. Each business has been carefully curated for its story, and alignment to Coastal Carolina Riverwatch’s values. As a patron of these businesses, you will not only be conserving resources by supporting your local economy, but also reducing your carbon footprint.

The Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Eco-Gift Guide will be available in digital format, via a dedicated website that is user-friendly. Desktop and mobile versions will be accessible for those shoppers who desire to either shop at home, or on-the-go.

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Members receive VIP First Access to the Eco-Gift Guide, followed by the newsletter subscribers. Full access to the Eco-Gift Guide will be available to the public October 18, 2021.

Business Involvement

If you are a business owner, or part of an organization that serves or supports our coastal communities, and feel that your business values align with those of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch, and you wish to join the Eco-Gift Guide, please contact Shannon Arner, Marketing Specialist.

Click to feature your Local Eco-Friendly Business


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Advocating for Gibb’s Creek

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Protecting quality of water and quality of life in Coastal North Carolina

Waterkeeper Advocates for Gibb’s Creek

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Waterkeeper, Rebecca Drohan, advocates for preserving and protecting the quality of water and quality of life in Coastal Carolina. Recently, Rebecca joined a group of local citizen advocates to voice concerns over a new proposed development in Gibb’s Creek (Beaufort, NC).

“Shackleford Landing” is a new proposed development in Beaufort. There are 400 units of varying sizes, includes a hotel and commercial spaces. This massive development is being proposed along Gibb’s Creek, an estuarine tributary of the North River.

This proposed development, comes with a hefty environmental price tag. This area performs a number of ecological services including flood prevention, sediment control, carbon sequestration, and water filtration. Gibb’s Creek provides habitat for vulnerable wildlife and many commercial species that our local economy relies on. Loss of these services is not easily mimicked or restored. The density and scope of this project are especially concerning in relation to these environmental benefits.

Rebecca Drohan, Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper and Beaufort resident, says that “Gibb’s Creek is among few undeveloped green spaces in our community. Though not all coastal development is preventable, it needs to be done responsibly. All decisions must be made with the utmost care and respect towards our incredibly sensitive waterways, which provide quality of life here in coastal NC.”

“Beaufort is also in a period of great transition regarding development. New comprehensive land use plans are still in process, including the creation of a “Unified Development Ordinance”. These plans will be used to guide Beaufort’s development for many years to come. It needs to be considered whether it’s wise to proceed with such a huge project during this time of change.” – Rebecca Drohan, Waterkeeper

The Town of Beaufort is accepting written comment on the “Shackleford Landing” proposal through 5 pm on October 15th. Emails may be sent to for the Beaufort Planning Board to review. Find the proposal here.


PHOTOS: David Spense, 2021

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Plastics Impact Water Quality for Fisheries

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Protecting quality of water and quality of life in Coastal North Carolina

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Launched the Water Quality for Fisheries Program in Early 2021

This project addresses water quality improvement through several collaborative objectives being developed in partnership with fisheries communities.

The purpose of the Water Quality for Fisheries (WQ4F) Project is to identify and address the impacts of water quality on the North Carolina fisheries.

Part of this process includes researching and assessing what is currently being done to address water quality issues that impact fisheries. The assessment part of this project will include what is being done to address sources of pollution from all areas of NC (including those outside of the coastal area). The assessment will also include recommended future actions to address water quality concerns. These recommended future actions will come from the WQ4F research and assessment team and the Industry Working Group. The Industry Working Group is made up of commercial and recreational fishermen.

A research based survey was conducted among NC coastal fishermen to identify prioritized water quality concerns. From these results, it was determined that Plastic Pollution runoff was one of the top five concerns. You may learn more about our on-going assessment here.
“Through research and assessment, we know that plastic pollution impacts water quality, and therefore fisheries.

North Carolinians can help reduce these impacts by:

  • Reducing plastics at the source.

  • Wearing natural non-synthetic clothing.

  • Installing microplastic filtering/reducing devices in washing machines.

  • Picking up plastic litter.

  • Advocate for extended producer responsibility and waste reduction policies.

  • Support plastics research.

  • Buy non-plastic products that are multi-use.

Coastal Carolina Riverwatch (CCRW) staff, board, and members are grateful for the support and collaboration from the commercial and recreational fishing community.

Together, we are identifying recommended future actions to improve water quality through the voices of the coastal fishing community.” -Lisa Rider, Executive Director, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch.

Y5JJ3Mgsz1LVsN21X97AlFCQeGQJhaTV9MJ_SiDKQVAVjPMNlNyDTCm0ZiIZU1t8mst5FmnZ5eBXtopI5HDaJwAfNVFrpY3g_Ke3GqdPq8u6LJeo6vE97g8VVJXZj_AAQxGSE-gC=s0Runoff from Plastic Pollution was identified as a water quality priority among NC coastal fishing communities. This graphic shows how runoff of Plastic Pollutants enters our waterways and the impacts it can have. Graphic: Noah Weaver

Funding for the Water Quality for Fisheries project has been generously provided by the Marine Fisheries Commission Commercial Resource Funding Committee and the Funding Committee for the North Carolina Commercial Fishing Resource Fund.



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Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper Announced

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h4WZfks_MfCv4Rh8aM1X6uwExZcQivbjuyEtx_KhqcUxrlGl3AzRWo-Bznkv5fCM14KexNL8qNn4yg9CXWbaHpf6xOe4aaRVg9nTfQ5x_GhUYbkcOHOpoN5O3DVX4owhib0onneE=s0The Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Board of Directors recently appointed Rebecca Drohan as the Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper.

Waterkeepers act as a voice for local watersheds. Waterkeepers perform “boots on the ground” field work to monitor and defend our waterways. Waterkeepers focus on localized bodies of water while working collectively with neighbors to address larger issues. They work to hold polluters accountable, while engaging community members in education and outreach to bring about long term change. The public can always reach out to Waterkeepers to report concerns in their watershed. CCRW can be reached at

Lisa Rider, Coastal Carolina Riverwatch Executive Director, noted, “We are grateful to work along-side Rebecca Drohan. She is a true advocate for our waterways. She walks it like she talks it and is a role model for others wanting to do more to protect the quality of water and quality of life in eastern North Carolina. She has the perfect combination of technical skills and passion that supports our mission.”

“In her nearly three years with CCRW, Rebecca has rapidly grown into her responsibilities and is ready and excited to take on the new challenges of Waterkeeper. She is passionate about our mission of water quality and fully prepared to elevate our work in protecting the ENC environment,” shared Board President, Rick Kearney.

Rebecca joined the staff of Coastal Carolina Riverwatch in the Fall of 2018. In her previous position as Program Coordinator, she worked to engage the community through coordinating volunteers for litter cleanups and water monitoring, interactive programming for school age children, creating virtual outreach content, and partnering with local businesses on plastic reduction initiatives. In her three years at CCRW, Rebecca received on-the-job training in water sample collection and analysis, aerial watershed observations, and water quality advocacy.

Katie Tomberlin, Board Vice President, added, “I met Rebecca the first week she came to work for CCRW. I have been fortunate to witness her passion for the environment, work alongside her and watch her grow in this field. She is exactly what we need here in a Waterkeeper, and we are lucky to have her on board with us.”

Rebecca holds a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable Development from Appalachian State University. Her background includes outdoor education at Hemlock Bluffs State Nature Preserve and organizing on fossil fuel issues in the Chesapeake region.

“Being your Waterkeeper is a position I am honored to have, and one I take very seriously. Having grown up kayaking, swimming, and exploring North Carolina’s watersheds, I developed a great admiration for our natural world and became inspired to protect it. However, not everyone has been afforded the same privilege of clean and safe waterways to enjoy. Our rivers, estuaries, and coastal waters are so precious but are subject to many threats. As Waterkeeper I will advocate for clean water for all.” said Rebecca Drohan, Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper.

Drohan will lead several initiatives as Waterkeeper, which will support the mission of CCRW, to protect and enhance the waters, land, and communities of eastern North Carolina.

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) subject our rivers to fecal contamination and pollute the air in surrounding communities. Through the “Pure Farms Pure Waters” campaign, we work with other NC Waterkeepers and several amazing statewide advocates to address these impacts. CCRW collects regular water samples in our service area to monitor bacteria levels surrounding CAFOs. We also do aerial monitoring to look for violations. By collecting this data we can track trends on how these facilities are affecting our waters. We can then work with our partners to advocate for the reform of these destructive industries. We have the greatest respect for NC’s local, sustainable farms and are working on initiatives to support these alternatives.

Microplastics are another form of pollution plaguing our waterways. Plastics never truly break down. Instead, they breakup into tiny pieces called microplastics. Microplastics can attract toxins and be ingested by aquatic life. Microplastics have become so pervasive that they are present in the human body. CCRW is participating in a two year microplastic study in the New River. We are collecting water and sediment samples to be analyzed for microplastic content. This project is in partnership with all other NC Waterkeepers and will provide valuable information about the scope of NC’s microplastic problem.

NC fishing communities depend on clean water as a way of life. They spend more time on the water than perhaps anyone else and are deeply impacted by water quality issues. CCRW’s Water Quality for Fisheries program addresses water quality impacts on NC fisheries. Through a research based survey, we identified five water quality priority concerns from our fishing communities. We developed an Industry Working Group made up of commercial and recreational fishermen to collaboratively address these concerns. Through an assessment process we are evaluating what is currently being done on these issues and working to identify areas of need.

Moving forward, we have several other projects we are looking to implement in our watershed. We are currently seeking funding for “Equity in the Environment”. This is a mentorship program designed to diversify environmental leadership by empowering underrepresented youth in Eastern NC. This program will pair students with expert mentors specializing in different areas of environmental study. Each student will undergo unique field experiences throughout our watershed and receive a scholarship to foster future success.

“Though we are up against formidable challenges, we are working everyday to protect our local waterways. We couldn’t do it without the help of our community, volunteers, and members. Together, we are working towards a more sustainable and just future for residents in our watershed, and beyond.” – Rebecca Drohan, Coastal Carolina Waterkeeper